Book Review: “When Life Sends You Lemons, Make LENNONAID: What John Lennon’s life did for mine” by Kaya John

When Life Sends You Lemons, Make LENNONAID: What John Lennon's life did for mine Kaya JohnWhen Life Sends You Lemons, Make LENNONAID: What John Lennon’s life did for mine by Kaya John was recommended to me by a friend. In fact, I was asked if I would be willing to interview the author for my blog. Instead, I think a review of this self-published autobiography/memoir is in order.

As a publicist for several self-published authors, I’m generally very lenient when reviewing self-published books. I believe everyone has a story to tell and should at some point in their life share their story with the world. I went into this book with the same attitude and early on came to the decision that it would be very hard to rate someone’s memoir, let alone judge their life story. Kaya’s story is that of a broken and abusive childhood and the only thing that brought her joy was the music of the Beatles and John Lennon. I could relate…until page 131.

I somehow feel quieter inside now that Cynthia has finally let it all out. That needed to happen. We needed to know that about John and Cynthia really needed to tell it. I was always so afraid of what her truth might be. I understood about the coldness and the temper but I must say I was relieved to find out he only hit her once, I was really afraid he could have been a real constant physical abuser. So he wasn’t as bad as I though he might be.

Did she really just justify all of John’s abuse because he only hit his wife Cynthia once? Is she excusing the physical abuse against May and Yoko too? I found this one paragraph incredibly disturbing. But the author didn’t stop there.

Ms. John talks excessively about her parent’s flaws, illnesses and addictions that led to her not so happy childhood, but only hints at her own flaws including addiction and a failed marriage at some point in her life. She also goes on to lecture about the importance of becoming a vegetarian or vegan, even sinking so low as to say about those who eat meat: “And I wonder what the mutilation, torture, rape, confinement and murder of conscious, intelligent animals is doing to their soul.”

The last 26 pages of this 180 page book are all about the “Beatles friends and family” that Kaya has met over the years and all of her best memories of attending all but one Fest for Beatles Fans, making this book read more like a blog than a book. In fact, I would recommend she take up blogging instead of writing books…

I couldn’t rate this book even if I wanted to…sorry.

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New-used bookstores in Baltimore lead to Beatles treasures!

I’ve been reading a book for the past two weeks, but life has been too busy to finish it to post a review. It’s actually only 180 pages, so I don’t have a really good excuse except for life getting in the way. I promise to finish it and post my review on Wednesday. In the meantime…

Yesterday my husband and I headed down to Baltimore, Maryland, to visit a used bookstore I had read about online. Since it was a two hour drive, we had planned to have lunch at the Inner Harbor and visit a cigar store, too, since he’s the editor/owner of a very popular cigar blog.

The Book Thing, Baltimore, MD

The Book Thing, Baltimore, MD

The bookstore isn’t really a bookstore at all. In fact, they give away all the books for FREE! The name of this place is The Book Thing. This place is a huge warehouse of donated used books on every topic under the sun. People bring their books to donate and others come with boxes to fill with books from the shelves. And let me tell you…it was crowded! The store is only open on Saturdays and Sundays and parking is a bit tricky, but if you’re in the Baltimore area and love books, check this place out. I wasn’t able to find any Beatles books on this trip, but I did leave with a handful of useful reading material for other endeavors. If you’re interested in going, you can read more about the who, where, when and why of how this place came to be in this article.

The Book Escape, Baltimore, MD

The Book Escape, Baltimore, MD

After driving less than 4 miles south to the Inner Harbor to have lunch, Craig and I realized that the cigar shop we wanted to visit was only 1.3 miles away, so we decided to hoof it. Lucky for me, we came upon another bookstore along the way! This store is called The Book Escape and sells both new and used books. It’s an absolutely charming store stuffed to the gills! From the front, it appears to be small, but after asking the gentleman behind the desk where his music section was, he led us to the back of the store, through a door into a courtyard and into an adjoining store front next door. This time, I managed to find 3 Beatles related books and one book written by a friend that I just had to buy for $5. But…my discoveries didn’t end there. When I got to the counter to checkout, I asked if there were any other Beatles books. Next thing I know, this guy is pulling out 5 more books from places around the store. Decisions…decisions. I limited myself to just 4 new/used books.

A couple blocks farther down on Light Street and we found ourselves at the Cross Street Tobacco store and lounge. It was a great little store and my husband says the humidor was very well stocked. Now I know most of you don’t give a hoot about cigars, but once I mentioned to the clerk that I came to Baltimore to check out bookstores and specifically to find books about the Beatles, he called over one of his regular clients who I spent the next half hour talking to about the Beatles, Stones, Bowie and other various rock bands and books written about them. He even suggested 4 books I should find. It was then that he asked if I had been to Protean Books & Records. He even called the owner to let him know we were on our way, but the owner wasn’t there. So after my husband finished his cigar, we walked the less than half a mile to the next store.

Protean Books and Records, Baltimore, MD

Protean Books and Records, Baltimore, MD

Protean Books and Records is tucked away in warehouse that had no sign on the building letting you know you had arrived. They did have a little stand-up sign on the sidewalk though. Now this place was a book lovers dream store! Racks and racks of used books, new and used CDs & LPs, and video games. My husband tells me they even had a horror museum in the back (I was too focused on the books in the music section to look around). I stumbled upon 3 more Beatles books that I just felt compelled to add to my collection.

I gotta say, this little road-trip turned out way better than I had ever expected! I would highly recommend all the places we visited in Baltimore to anyone who’s going there and an avid reader. Here’s a picture of my haul for the day… 

 

 

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Book Review: “Baby’s In Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles” by Arne Bellstorf

Baby's In Black Arne BellstorfBaby’s in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles a black and white graphic novel by German cartoonits Arne BellstorfThis hardcover book measures approximately 6″ x 9″ and is 195 pages long. It was originally published in Germany in 2010 under the title Baby’s In Black: The Story of Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe, and later translated into English in 2011 and released in the U.S. in 2012 with its new title.

This is the latest graphic novel in my quest to find the ultimate Beatles graphic novel. I bought a used ex-library copy off of Amazon.com, so I can really comment on the cover since mine has plastic covering it. I will say that even though this book is in black & white, I enjoyed the artwork much more than the book I read last week in which I had a hard time telling the individual Beatles apart from the artist’s renditions. I believe the author of Baby’s In Black, Arne Bellstorf, was much better at pulling off the emotion of the characters much better than some other cartoonists who used more color and detailed drawings.

This book is the love story of Astrid Kirchherr and Beatles’ bassist Stuart Sutcliffe, from the moment they set eyes on each other at the Kaiserkeller club in Hamburg, Germany, until the day Astrid broke the news to John and Paul that Stu had died. George, Paul and John also play a big part in the story with barely a mention of Pete Best. Klaus Voormann also figures prominently in the story, as does Astrid’s mother. You have to give the author a lot of credit for getting the real Astrid Kirchherr to help in making the story as true as possible. It made it a real delight to read knowing that it came from source. And though I’m weary to label this as the ultimate Beatles graphic novel (since it’s really about Astrid and Stu), I really believe that any Beatle fan would truly enjoy this book. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “The Beatles: All Our Yesterdays” by Jason Quinn and Lalit Kumar Sharma

Beatles All Our Yesterdays Jason Quinn Lalit Kumar SharmaAfter reading the graphic novel – The Beatles Story a couple weeks ago, I decided to search on Amazon to see if there were any other graphic novels about the Beatles. I’d love to find one that really WOW’d me and that I think would really impress other Beatles fans and collectors.

The Beatles: All Our Yesterdays, written by Jason Quinn and illustrated by Lalit Kumar Sharma is one of two graphic novels I purchased. This book, published in 2016 by Campfire Books (a division of Kalyani Navyug Media in India), is 149 pages and is in full color. The publishers were even kind enough to include an adorable guitar shaped book mark in the back of the book which I chose to leave intact.

Unfortunately, the good impression stops there. Despites it’s beauty, vibrant colors and bonus bookmark, this book is filled with falsehoods and just sloppy storytelling.  The author starts his story at the very beginning with the birth of each of the Beatles and ends with the release of their first single. I was impressed to see it even mentioned temporary fill-in bass player Chaz Newby! There is also a short epilogue to bring the reader up to date. The typos are non-existent and the text itself is beautifully written (meaning it’s easy to read), but so much of the Beatles history is just blatantly wrong.

I guess my search will continue for the ultimate Beatles graphic novel. I have another one on standby that I will review next week.

I rate this book, 1 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Win this amazing Beatles portrait collection from WROCK!

 

Disclaimer: Beatles Freak Reviews is in no way affiliated with WROCK or ScotRadio.

 

 

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Book Review: “Lennon in America” by Geoffrey Giuliano

Lennon in America Geoffrey GiulianoA couple weeks ago, I was digging through a box of books about the Beatles that I had in search of something to read when I stumbled upon Lennon in America , written by Geoffrey Giuliano and published in 2000. I was surprised to find this book because the author is quite controversial especially in one of the Facebook groups I belong to – Beatles Book Collectors. Though I haven’t kept up with exactly why people don’t like his books, I decided to take a look-see for myself and hoped that I could read this book without prejudice and write a fair review. Here it goes:

According to the subtitle of this book, 1971-1980, Based in Part on the Lost Lennon Diaries, Mr. Giuliano was at some point in time in possession of some of John Lennon’s written and audio diaries which he used extensively in writing this book. I tried to contact a friend to see if I could find out what diaries these were since I had heard of the diaries that were in Fred Seaman’s possession for a short time after John’s death. And… there are the diaries that were stolen that in the past several years that recently turn up in Berlin, Germany. I’m sure someone who reads my blog will be able to clear this all up.

This book, though easy to read, can be a bit choppy. I got the impression that the author was taking information from the diaries and other people’s books and just rewriting it. In fact, the bibliography reads like a Who’s Who of the most popular books about John Lennon, including books by May Pang, Fred Seaman, Cynthia Lennon, Julia Baird, Pete Shotton, John Green, Albert Goldman, etc.. What made me come to this realization was the continual contradiction of events, even within the same paragraph without explanation. I can only guess that without actually researching the events, the author was just trying to cover all bases by including all the stories from everyone who was there. Mr. Giuliano also writes heavily about John’s sex life. In fact, the entire 21 page prologue of this book is about every story ever told about John’s homosexual tendencies. I guess sex sells, doesn’t it?

I kinda left this book not knowing what to believe and more confused about John’s life than I ever was before. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 2 out 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

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Documentary Review: “I Killed John Lennon”

I Killed John Lennon movie I decided to delve back into my free Amazon Prime movies to see what’s available in the way of Beatles movies/documentaries that I hadn’t seen or heard of yet. It’s been a busy weekend and I didn’t have much time, so I chose the 48 minute documentary I Killed John Lennon. This movie is also available on DVD.

This movie revolves mostly around the 200 minutes of taped interviews that reporter Jack Jones did with Mark David Chapman over a period of six years starting in 1986. Mixed in with bits of audio from those tapes are interviews with Jack Jones and several psychologists who have read over the transcripts and present their analysis of Lennon’s murderer.

As you can imagine, a 48 minute film that covers 200 hours of tape isn’t going to really go very deep into the killers motivation or life history. This movie just seems to skim the surface of the whole story and end with the psychologist and Jones deeming that Chapman is crazy. If you’re truly interested in the who, what, when where and whys of the tragic death of John Lennon there are much better films and books. In fact, Jack Jones wrote a 300 page book about his interviews called, Let Me Take You Down: Inside the Mind of Mark David Chapman,the Man Who Killed John Lennon that you can buy used on Amazon for as little as $1.78. And for that reason…

I rate this film, 1 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

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